(Lucent Technologies, Murray Hill, NJ, www.lucent.com) A major manufacturer of telecommunications equipment. Lucent makes telephones and telephone systems, large telephone switching computers and integrated circuits and optoelectronics components for communications and computer applications.
The company has a long history in the telecom arena. Its roots go back to 1869 when Elisha Gray and Enos Barton founded Gray and Barton in Cleveland, Ohio, a company that provided parts and models for inventors such as Gray himself. Gray and Barton was later renamed Western Electric Company when Western Union, its major customer, became an investor.
In 1881, American Bell Telephone purchased controlling interest in Western Electric, which became the manufacturing arm of the Bell companies. In 1899, AT&T, which was created 14 years earlier, took over American Bell and Western Electric. In 1925, the already-combined engineering departments of Western Electric and AT&T were turned into Bell Labs, which has become world famous for its research. A year later, Western Electric spun off its electrical distribution operations as Graybar Electric Company, which became the first large company to be bought out by its own employees.
Over the years, the company ushered in the electronic age by developing the vacuum tube. It also invented the loudspeaker, brought sound to motion pictures and introduced mobile communications, the forerunner of today's cellular system. When AT&T was divested of its Bell operating companies in 1984, Western Electric remained with AT&T, but was soon split up into a variety of divisions, including Network Systems, which builds the major switching and telecom equipment. When spun off from AT&T in 1996, Lucent retained all of AT&T's manufacturing units as well as Bell Labs.
In late 2006, Lucent merged with Paris-based Alcatel forming a new entity named Alcatel-Lucent. In early 2007, the new company announced it had acquired Nortel's UMTS radio access business to forward its network development of 3G to 4G technologies. See OFS
Lucent Has History
Although a new company in 1996, Lucent goes way back, spawning Bell Labs and Graybar Electric and inventing or developing some of the most important technologies in the western world. (Image courtesy of Lucent Technologies.)